October 16, 2020
Carbon tax on Welsh beef cattle met with opposition
The plan to charge £100 (US$129.43) carbon tax on prime beef cattle that are older than 27 months could phase out traditional breeds that play an important role in managing Wales' hills and uplands.
The National Beef Association (NBA) is suggesting that imposing carbon tax would deter producers from retaining older, slower-growing and less efficient cattle. This would cut the cattle sector's carbon footprint and streamline production.
NBA wants the rule, which defines prime cattle between 12 and 30 months old, be changed.
However, instead of achieving the desired outcome of protecting the environment, the proposal could be harmful and impact Welsh beef producers disproportionately.
This is because many beef systems in Wales uses regenerative farming practices and are less intensive.
Glyn Roberts, president of Farmers' Union of Wales (FUW), who runs a beef and sheep farm with his daughter Beca in Ysbyty Ifan, North Wales, said the union has received many calls from angry members since the NBA launched this levy proposal.
"Many highlighted the particular impact of the proposal would have for traditional breeds and certain farming systems which are of particular importance to the environment,'' he said.
Roberts suggested that the proposal is a blunt instrument for solving a problem that is not "black and white''.
"While the carbon benefits of finishing animals more quickly are well known for certain farming systems, for other more traditional systems, where animals are finished over a longer period, such 'black and white' proposal did not make sense from an environmental perspective, including in relation to carbon,'' Roberts said.
The concerns will be raised at a joint meeting of the FUW's livestock, wool and marts, and hill farming and marginal land committees later this month.
About 10.6% of the 1.5 million prime beef cattle slaughtered each year in the United Kingdom are between 28 and 30 months old.
Some farmers support the NBA plan, suggesting it would boost productivity while helping agriculture meet net-zero targets.
As animals age, their carbon emissions increases steadily and they convert feeds less efficiently.
Neil Shand, NBA's chief executive said: "Removing older animals would free up land and feed, which could then be used to increase the national beef breeding herd.''
"A larger, lower-cost herd, with a lower carbon footprint would be better able to compete with beef imports,'' he said.
Excluded from this plan are cull cows and herds on conservation ground or herds using rare breeds.
- Western Telegraph